Interplay of grounding-line dynamics and sub-shelf melting during retreat of the Bjørnøyrenna Ice Stream

Michele Petrini, Florence Colleoni, Nina Kirchner, Anna L.C. Hughes, Angelo Camerlenghi, Michele Rebesco, Renata G. Lucchi, Emanuele Forte, Renato R. Colucci, Riko Noormets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Barents Sea Ice Sheet was a marine-based ice sheet, i.e., it rested on the Barents Sea floor during the Last Glacial Maximum (21 ky BP). The Bjørnøyrenna Ice Stream was the largest ice stream draining the Barents Sea Ice Sheet and is regarded as an analogue for contemporary ice streams in West Antarctica. Here, the retreat of the Bjørnøyrenna Ice Stream is simulated by means of two numerical ice sheet models and results assessed against geological data. We investigate the sensitivity of the ice stream to changes in ocean temperature and the impact of grounding-line physics on ice stream retreat. Our results suggest that the role played by sub-shelf melting depends on how the grounding-line physics is represented in the models. When an analytic constraint on the ice flux across the grounding line is applied, the retreat of Bjørnøyrenna Ice Stream is primarily driven by internal ice dynamics rather than by oceanic forcing. This suggests that implementations of grounding-line physics need to be carefully assessed when evaluating and predicting the response of contemporary marine-based ice sheets and individual ice streams to ongoing and future ocean warming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7196
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2018


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